In Texas, your lights can be turned off for the following reasons.
If you don’t pay your electric bill
If you don’t pay your bill, the electric company can disconnect your service only after they provide you with written notice. They must give you 10 days of notice before the disconnect date. The disconnect date cannot fall on a weekend or a holiday unless they are available to take payments from you on that day to prevent service disconnect. This means they can turn your power off on a Sunday only if they have someone available on that day in case you pay your bill at the last minute.
Many electric companies will charge you a fee just for sending you a disconnect notice. This fee is separate from the actual disconnect fee you may be charged. If you get a disconnect notice, you will have to pay the disconnect notice fee even if you don’t get your power turned off. The disconnect notice can be delivered either in writing or email if you have agreed to receive electronic communications from your provider.
If you use your electricity in a way that interferes with others
If you are using your electricity in a non-standard way or in a way that effects those around you, the electric company can disconnect your service.
If you fail to pay the bill of someone you co-signed for.
If you guaranteed the electric bill of someone else and both they and you failed to pay their electric bill, you can have your power disconnected even if your bill is current.
You failed to pay a deposit
Typically, if a deposit is required, it will need to be paid before service is turned on. However, if find that your power has been switched to a Provider of Last Resort (POLR) they can ask you for a deposit in order to keep your service going. If this happens, you have 15 days to come up with the deposit. Being switched to a POLR only happens if your current electric company goes out of business suddenly.
You fall behind on your deferred payment plan
If you fall behind on your electricity bill, you can ask your provider for a deferred payment plan. If you enter a deferred payment plan you agree to pay off the balance you owe over time in exchange for keeping your lights on. The electric company will place your account in Switch Hold status. This will prevent you from switching to another electric company while you are in the deferred payment plan. If you fail to keep up with your payment plan, the electric company can disconnect your service.
If your electric company disconnects your service, they usually must provide you with prior notice. There are exceptions that don’t require prior notice. Your electric company can disconnect you with no prior notice for the following reasons.
- For safety issues. If the electric company determines there is a dangerous condition at your home or place of business, they can disconnect your service. If this happens, they will post a written notice on the premises.
- If theft of service is suspected. If they think you are stealing electricity they have the right to pull the plug without notice.
- If equipment was tampered with. This includes electric meters and other equipment.
- If electric service was established by someone who didn’t have the authority to do so.
Can the light company turn off my power on the weekend or on a holiday?
Your electric company could theoretically turn off your power on Christmas, New Year’s Day or any other holiday or weekend provided they have staff in place on that day to take payment to prevent disconnect.
Can my electricity be turned off if I have medical needs?
If you have a chronic health condition or critical care needs that require uninterrupted electricity you can register your status with the electric company. While this doesn’t guarantee uninterrupted service, it does give you some protections.
To get this protection you must have the doctor of the person with the medical condition submit paperwork to the electric company stating that the ill person’s condition would be made worse without access to electricity.
If you are behind on your payments, you must enter into a deferred payment plan to receive this protection. The exemption must be renewed every 63 days.
Can my power be turned off during cold weather or in the summer?
During a weather emergency the electric company cannot turn off your power without giving you a chance to enter into a deferred payment plan. You must request it though.
Your electric company may not disconnect your service for any of these additional reasons
- Because a previous resident at your address failed to pay their bill
- For non-payment of a charge that isn’t related to your electric service
- For non-payment of under-billed charges from more than 6 months in the past
- If you have made arrangements with an energy assistance provider to get your past due bills paid